In my last blog post I talked about some new innovative technology that Olympus have built into to their new range of WS series digital voice recorders which was announced in early January 2012 and on display on the Olympus stand at CES 2012 in San Francisco.
In this post we will look a little closer at the new three digital voice recorders (WS-811, WS-812 and WS-813), see how they are different from the models they will replace (WS-650S/WS-750M/WS-760M) and speculate on when we might see these in Australia. Gone finally is the trailing letter on the model of the recorders that we have seen for so many years where S used to denote Stereo and M was for music, now simply the series, WS, and the model number.
New Olympus WS Series Digital Voice Recorders
As is usual with a product range revamp we tend to see the same things improve. Firstly we have a new more modern look, the rounded edges, new look grills over the improved microphones. Olympus have done some work with the mics and are high sensitivity low noise, directional mics with a high signal-to-noise ratio which ensures clear crisp and pure recording. We also see enlarged stop and record buttons for ease of use, not much of a big deal you may think but these recorders are really quite small so anything that helps locate the buttons you need quickly adds to the use experience.
PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) – Uncompressed WAV
Surprisingly we still don’t see PCM recording across the entire WS range, with only the WS-812 and WS-813 affording that luxury which for those of you not aware PCM recordings are equal to CD quality recordings (using the 44.1k/16bit PCM mode to uncompressed WAV). Don’t be swayed, the high quality MP3 and WMA recording modes on all three are still stunningly clear and you would need the hearing of a bat to tell the difference.
Nice to see a microSD slot on each recorder allowing the already large in-built memory to be expanded. Remember these little devices also double as portable storage so not only can you record and keep your audio on them but any digital file – much like a memory stick.
Plug And Play – No Software Required – Mac Compatible
This is nothing new, for a fair few years now Olympus have been Mac compatible and for ease of use you require no software to access the audio, or any other files, you store on your WS series recorder. Simply walk up to any computer, Mac or PC, USB connect and the stored data is available. The USB connector is built into the recorder and slides out from the bottom when needed from just below the speaker grill. All three recorders can also double as an MP3 music player, pop in the supplied earbuds or your own headphones and listen to your music.
Only On The WS-812 and WS-813 …
The WS-811 has been by-passed with some features that will be key to a few like manual recording levels, all three recorders also have auto record levels. Voice playback feature which skips the silent parts of your recording during playback and only plays the recorded voices. Voice balancer technology boosts quieter voices and reduces loud voices to attempt a level range of spoken audio volume. A calendar search function has also been introduced to help you find audio on the a little easier (if you know the date they were recorded). Files can be moved between folders on the device.
When Will They Be Available In Australia?
Yes we are keen to get ahold of these little beauties too, I for one am looking forward to playing with the new voice playback and voice balancer features and putting them through some tests ready for a review. The rumour on the street is that the new WS series recorders will be available in Australia towards the end of March. No confirmation on price in AU (prices in Europe have been published) but I would expect them to come in around the same price as the current WS series range if not a little cheaper, just to put a bit more pressure on the competition.